Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 06:00pm -
Faculty & Graduate Student Workshop
RBSC invites all interested faculty and doctoral candidates at Rutgers (Camden, Newark and New Brunswick) and British Studies scholars in the mid-Atlantic region to join our Faculty Workshop presentations of research-in-progress. We are eager to create a forum where scholars with shared interests in British Studies broadly construed from across disciplines and the region can meet one another. Papers are pre-circulated drafts, c. 25 to 50 pages, and will be available one week in advance.
MUKTI LAKHI MANGHARAM (English)
Sponsor: Rutgers British Studies Center
Rethinking Modern Notions of Agency: Freeing the Female Self Affectively in Pre-Colonial and Colonial India
Abstract: The essay draws upon Prof. Mangharam's book project, "Centering the Global South: Indigenous Modernities in Indian and South African Literatures". The book argues that versions of the universalizing ideas that define global modernity, including individual freedom and popular sovereignty, were also instantiated within the global south relatively independently from European universalisms. In the process, the book adds to emerging discussions of indigenous modernities that do not originate in Europe but dialogue with, reinforce, but also challenge colonialist modernities. "Rethinking Modern Notions of Agency" considers classic Indian dramatic theory through Kalidasa's play 'Sakuntala' and its positing of a universalizing conception of free will that was located in the body and harnessed against divisive social structures. The paper then considers the ways in which this affective agency is instrumentalized on the late nineteenth century Bengali stage through the autobiography of Binodini Dasi, one of India’s first female theatre actresses, to resist conservative colonialist and elite nationalist constructions of Indian women. Indigenous universalisms, then, did not disappear or change unrecognizably during the colonial encounter. Rather, subaltern writers were posing alternative ideas of individual freedom and challenging dominant strands of colonial modernity through adaptations of pre-colonial literary forms.